Kathy Garver will always be remembered as Cissy on television's A Family Affair. The show celebrates its 50th anniversary on Monday, Sept. 12. At age 70, Garver and co-star Johnny Whitaker are the only remaining main cast members from A Family Affair who are alive today. ( Interestingly , they share a birthday. )
Garver has continued on with a massive amount of voice over work. She can be heard on cartoons, commercials and audiobooks. In movies, her voice work includes Apollo 13, Ransom, Backdraft and Jingle All the Way.
She is also an accomplished author, with The Family Affair Cookbook and her autobiography, Surviving Cissy: My Family Affair of Life in Hollywood.
Garver has won two Audie Awards and recently appeared on Oprah Winfrey's Where Are They Now?
Windy City Times: How is life in La-La land?
Kathy Garver: Well, I am in San Francisco so it is a little better, although I am going to LA next week.
WCT: So you live in gay land instead?
KG: Yes, we have lots of fun!
WCT: Have you been to Chicago before?
KG: It is one of my most favorite cities. I love it.
WCT: How did your part on A Family Affair come about?
KG: I have been working since I was a child. At the time I was going to UCLA, and Family Affair had been primarily cast except for Cissy. Something happened to the original Cissy so they needed a new one but they wanted a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl. At that time I had brown hair and brown eyes. My mother sprayed my hair with Streaks and Tips Hairspray that makes your hair lighter. It made my hair bronze gold. It was very hard so when you tapped it it would not move.
When I met with the producer, he asked what was wrong with my hair. He said it looked green. I joked, "You are not doing a remake of The Boy with Green Hair?" That was my screen test and the rest is history.
WCT: What is The Annoyance Theater event?
KG: Mark Roberts is doing the lost pilots that he had written for shows that weren't sold. I am playing one of the characters in the cast. There are three stories that we will present.
It is interesting because I am working on a project with Silicon Valley about movie scripts. There is a new company that is taking some of these screenplays, buying them for nothing, who have had them in the warehouses for years. For one reason or another they never got produced. They are first turning them into books then movies.
WCT: How did the voice over work come about?
KG: I remember when I first went to audition on a commercial for voice over work and it was for tuna. The person wanted me to try a different voice and I had no idea how to do it. I took lessons after that. Once I understood the concept I had a natural melody to my voice. That bodes very well for cartoons or commercials. I have done about 70 audiobooks. I have done four Oasis Audio that is right there in Illinois.
I now teach voice work.
WCT: I didn't realize you did the Firestar voice on the cartoon Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.
KG: I love going to comic-book conventions. I bring my Firestar character with me.
WCT: What are your plans after the Chicago appearance?
KG: Before I leave, I am going to the Celestial Ball at the Adler Planetarium. After that, I am going to the Maryland Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention. Then I am making a speech in Washington, D.C., about my newest book, X Child Stars: Where Are They Now?
In October, I am hosting a new show called Star Watch in Palm Springs. I have a star on the Walk of Stars in Palm Springs. I am going to do two people each show that have stars on there. I am doing Gavin MacLeod and Trini Lopez soon. If there is a star like Frank Sinatra who is no longer with us then we will have a retrospective of him.
WCT: I went on a gay tour in Palm Springs and saw Liberace's house.
KG: There are lots of fun houses there like Rock Hudson's also.
WCT: I look forward to seeing you in Chicago.
KG: Come see me at all the events if you have time. I promise not to talk so much! [Laughs]
Garver visits Rosemont for the Hollywood Show Sept. 10-11 at the Hilton, 5550 N. River Rd., with details at HollywoodShow.com .
On Friday, Sept. 9, at 7 p.m., Garvey will hold a reading at The Annoyance Theater, 851 W. Belmont Ave., for The Lost Pilots of Mark Roberts. Information on that event can be found at TheAnnoyance.com and 773-697-9693.